The BBC staffer who persuaded Prince Andrew to sit down for his infamous train wreck interview has revealed stunning new behind-the-scenes details.
The producer behind Prince Andrew’s infamous BBC trainwreck interview has opened up for the first time with stunning new behind-the-scenes details of the top-secret trial.
In a fragment published by the Daily mail from her new book, Scoops: Behind the scenes of the BBC’s most shocking interviews, Sam McAlister – who at the time worked for news evening – reveals after months of failed bids for a no-obligation interview with the Duke of Yorkshe eventually threw caution to the wind during a meeting between the two sides.
According to the journalist, she said to him: “Sir. I have lived in this country for over 40 years and until now I only knew two things about you. It’s that you’re known as “Air Miles Andy” and “Randy Andy” – and I can definitely tell you the latter really isn’t helping you in your current predicament.
Referring to the intense global investigation surrounding Andrew following the arrest of his former close friend, Jeffrey Epstein, she immediately wondered if she’d lost their chances of getting “the interview of a lifetime.”
However, after a “long pause,” McAlister claimed Andrew suddenly laughed and everyone in the room immediately relaxed.
After years of being dogged by headlines about his close ties to the convicted pedophile, in November 2019 the royal family agreed to sit down with BBC presenter Emily Maitlis to finally answer questions about their relationship and deny allegations that he had sex with then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts-Giuffre.
Instead of clearing his name, the interview failed so spectacularly that just three days later — and amid worldwide outcry — Andrew announced that he was “taking a step back” from royal duties.
Prince Andrew has not been charged with any crime and has vehemently denied any wrongdoing
In the book, McAlister explains that the prince was “cheerful” and “friendly” at their pre-interview meeting, bringing his daughter, Princess Beatrice, along.
Unlike her father, however, Beatrice was “obviously concerned” and “clearly there to protect his interests”.
It was during that encounter, McAlister says, that Andrew first revealed his “alibi” the night Roberts-Guiffre claimed to have slept with him.
He told the BBC team about a children’s party at Pizza Express, his now infamous “not sweating” problem, and even admitted to having “errors of judgement”.
“It was overwhelming stuff,” McAlister writes.
“And then he said something I’ll never forget. When we had decided, he turned to Princess Beatrice and said that they had a lot to discuss and that they should go upstairs immediately afterward and talk about it with Mama over a cup of tea.
“… And then it hit me. ‘Mama’ was the queen.”
The former TV producer also expressed alarm at the lack of representation in the audience during the interview, which would ultimately end Andrew’s royal career.
Aside from the prince’s equerry, his chief of staff, Amanda Thirsk, was in attendance with her deputy, and McAlister admits she couldn’t believe there were “no lawyers, no other royal staff.”
She also revealed that the Queen had sent her own representation to check in – her communications secretary, Donal McCabe – but that he left after speaking to a few people and before filming had even started.
“In retrospect, this seemed like a missed opportunity – if he had stayed, he would have known the content of the interview first hand. Perhaps he would have let them know how terrible this would turn out to be for Andrew, for the palace, for the monarchy,” McAlister writes.
“Perhaps they would have had more time to prepare a response. Any form of damage limitation.”
But perhaps most astonishing is the detail McAlister provides about Andrew and his team’s response, both during and immediately after the interview.
“I could hardly believe his people hadn’t stopped the interview. I would have, despite the consequences,” she admits in her book.
She went on to describe how the royal staff had been pleased with how the shocking interview had gone and that Andrew even “seemed lavish”.
It was then, McAlister writes, that she realized he “actually thought everything had gone well.”
The excerpt from McAlister’s book comes just days after Andrew’s former boyfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for helping Epstein get girls for sex.
She apologized this week in a Manhattan court for her crimes, telling her victims — many of whom attended — that she hoped her jail sentence would bring them “closure.”
“I thereby acknowledge that I was the victim of helping Jeffrey Epstein commit these crimes,” she told the judge, claiming meeting the predator was “the greatest regret” of her life.
One victim said outside the court that “sorry is not enough”.
The sentence is much shorter than the maximum 55 years demanded by the prosecutors.
Despite this, Maxwell’s lawyers have said they will appeal and that the jail sentence reflects the late Epstein’s crimes rather than her own.
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